Neil Young sends Radcliffe message as Marine warning issued

Marine celebrate

Marine manager Neil Young says their clash with league-leaders Radcliffe poses an opportunity to give them a “better understanding” of their capabilities.

Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson’s side are the runaway leaders at the top of the Northern Premier League. The Boro are closing in on the historic feat of reaching the National League and currently sit 12 points clear of nearest challengers Warrington Rylands.

Marine are one of the six teams to defeat the Greater Manchester outfit this season, following their dramatic 3-2 win in September. The Mariners sit third, 13 points behind, and have firm hopes of securing playoff football but for Young, he feels their test at Stainton Park is a good marker.

He told Off The Park: “It’s a big game against the league leaders, away from home, their form has been incredible. I’m not hiding away from the size of the game but it’s another game for us, they’re top and their record at home is good – we’ve got to go there and put a performance in.

“It’s the next game, against the best team in the league and will give us a better understanding of where we’re at. From a confidence perspective, I think we can beat anyone in the league but Radcliffe will aswell, they have done in most cases.

“We’re under no illusions the size of going to Radcliffe and win but we’ve got to go there positive and we will do.”

Marine are unbeaten in six games since their humbling defeat to Hyde United at the beginning of January. They cruised past FC United of Manchester before picking up a good point away at in-form Ilkeston Town. 

Although they took four points from a possible six, the Marine boss is happy to come away and continue their unbeaten run – with the benefit of hindsight.

He added: “I thought we played well at FC United, they were well structured and we made some changes at half-time – I thought we were going too long at times. But I thought we were deserved winners, it could’ve probably been more. 

“First-half against Ilkeston we were poor, second-half was better and we had a spell of about 20 to 25 minutes where we scored, Fin (Sinclair-Smith) has missed a great chance, Harvey (Gregson) too, we could’ve gone on and went on. Ilkeston were five wins on the bounce, to get a point, we’ll take that and move on.”

This week, Marine welcomed 22-year-old Owen Windsor from Chester. The former West Brom academy product was brought in to the club following their failed pursuit in the summer. Meanwhile, Joe Ferguson left for FC United of Manchester in search of first-team minutes. 

Young felt that now was the right time to acquire the left-footed attacker, in the event that they could miss out in the summer. 

He said: “Owen (Windsor) has a good pedigree, he’s scored goals in the Football League, he scored goals in the Conference South with Chippenham, he’s a good age and a lad we wouldn’t have the opportunity, normally to sign. 

“At the start of the season, he’s gone to Chester, we spoke to them – they spoke highly of him – he was probably a victim of the circumstance in how they play. We had tried to sign him before he went to Chester but we’re glad to get him done now, I’m sure he’ll add and we have to have an eye on next year as well. 

“Can we bring in lads now and showcase our club with the hope that if they do well and are enjoying it, we potentially keep them for next season.”

The arrival of Windsor, with a view to next season, poses the reality that building blocks are already being put in place for next season. Last summer, Young ripped up the side that narrowly missed out on the playoffs as he looked to go one better this season and with the business end of the season in full swing, there is still one eye on the next campaign.

The Mariners boss warned that sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, he said: “That’s football, players come and go, It’s been proven on many occasions that the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere. It’s key, particularly for the younger players, that they’re playing in an environment that they enjoy and know, doing well in, and if they have ambition of really pushing on and going higher. 

“I’ve got to have a strategy, after years of experience, that we’ve got to futureproof what comes next for us as a club, we’re dealing with the here and now but I’ve got to have an eye on the next three or four months, if people are available now, they probably won’t be available in the summer. 

“My period at Marine has been about putting us on the map and being a club people want to join, that’s going to take a bit of time and we have to do that by bringing in established players – mixed in with the good young players that we always develop and that will always continue.”

[Featured Image: Susan Nugent]

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